Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The 5th. International Co-operation Summit held in Changchun City, Jilin Province of China on August 31 - September 3, 2009

The 5th. International Co-operation Summit held in Changchun City, Jilin Province of China on August 31 - September 3, 2009.

The opening speech was made by Li Kequiang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China while the Keynote address was given by the former Prime Minister of France, Dominique de Villepin. Among the participants were Vice Presidents, Ministers, Chief Executive Officers, Political Figures, world wide. Hon. Dew Gunasekara, Minister of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration who represented Sri Lanka functioned as a member of the Presidium at the Summit.

Following is the text of the presentation made by Hon. Dew Gunasekara at the Summit.

Presentation at the 5th. International Co-operation Summit at Changchun City, Jilin Province, China (August 31 - September 3, 2009
Dew Gunasekara
(Minister of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration, Sri Lanka)

Theme: "The need for a new international economic order and strengthening international co-operation to facilitate the recovery of world economy."

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!

The subject under discussion is timely, relevant, and urgently important.

As you are well aware, Sri Lanka is a small player in the global economy of $ 60 trillion ($ 60000billion) with only a G.D.P. of $ 35 billion. Though it had a fairly impressive social development record, with a G.D.P. growth rate of 6 - 7% in the last 3 years, and a higher per capita Income, it faced daunting challenges in its march towards socio-economic progress on account of a prolonged arms-conflict and also of external factors of its economy.

Sri Lanka, being a country highly trade-dependant accounting for about 70% of its G.D.P. was naturally vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the world economy.

The current global financial crisis hit our economy badly at a critical moment when the armed-conflict was at its height in May this year. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the external sector of our economy was affected adversely by the global financial crisis. It was expressed in many ways.

I. Sudden withdrawal of investments in Treasury Bills and Bonds by foreign investors.

II. Hasty claims on short-term credit.

III. Sharp drying-up of commercial financing.

IV. Valuation losses arising from the sharp depreciation of major international currencies against the U.S. Dollar.

As a result, our Balance of Payments turned into a Deficit and our Foreign Exchange Reserves sharply dropped from $ 3.5 billion in July, 2008 to $1.2 billion in March, 2009, within a matter of 8 months.

Of course, due to our prudent and flexible financial and monetary policies, we were able to safeguard our economy and its financial system.

I am happy that by the time I left Sri Lanka to attend this Summit, the reserves have topped almost $ 4 billion, much faster than we anticipated.

We were also able to withstand the pressures imposed on us mainly by virtue of our new economic strategy initiated in 2006 - a strategy aimed at, increased domestic production, regional development, development of rural economy, infrastructure, and small and medium enterprises.

Global economic recovery is of special importance to a smaller developing economy such as Sri Lanka, in the context of our need to enhance our exports, tourist industry, greater inflow of foreign capital, bi-lateral and multi-lateral assistance and sustenance of remittance from employment abroad.

The current global financial crisis that has engulfed nations across the world has renewed our focus on the oligarchy of multi-national financial institutions. The finance industry has created instruments such as derivatives, hedge-funds, futures etc. expressedly as a means of managing risks but with the sole objective of maximizing their profits, without caring for their negative consequences.

The Banks too resorted to the use of financial instruments such as securitization. This led to the collapse of the world's largest financial institutions, wiping out their values in the current financial melt-down.

This is the crux of the problem. You cannot talk about the global economic recession, without touching upon the fundamental factor of speculative capital which has become a scourge to the global economy's financial system.

As a result, the developing countries such as ours were placed in the most vulnerable position. For example,

1. The U.N. Millennium Development Goals are affected.

2. Developing countries are crippled by huge debt burdens.

3. Resources meant for relief are now being diverted to endless bail-outs in the developed countries.

4. Donor organizations are dried up.

This situation has brought about a hot debate once again on the "free markets" or the "unfettered markets".

After the oil shock of 1970s, the regulated markets were totally abandoned in order to pave way for so called liberalization. I would prefer to call it neo-liberalism in its ideological terminology, which was in force in the last three decades.

The authors of "free markets" went so far as to prescribe to the democratic governments, the need to abandon their role completely in the affairs of the economy.

Distinguished guests, this is the redeeming feature of the current crisis - that only those countries who did not fully liberalize their capital and financial markets have been spared of the major brunt of the present crisis.

I believe that wiser counsel would now prevail in order to ensure recovery, rebuild confidence, brings growth back into the system. I am happy that there is now a growing consensus for regulatory reforms in the banking and financial system in order to prevent risks, more so excessive risks.
Absence of transparency and accountability too has been recognized as among the major causes of systemic failures.

More voice and power should be given to the emerging countries. The central demand for reforms in U.N., I.M.F. World Bank, and W.T.O. is back on the agenda with added force. This needs highest priority - for a safer and better world.

Specifically, you would see the emergence of G 20 in this crisis in place of G 7 - This is a recognition of the new reality - the existing reality. I believe that emergence of G 20 in place of G 7 is the starting point of the impending paradigm shift.

Once again to be specific, the Quota and Vote at the I.M.F. needs urgent readjustment.

The South Asia to which Sri Lanka belongs, as a whole accounts for only 2.8% of the total votes at the I.M.F., representing nearly 2 billion people, while Belgium with a population of only 8 million has a vote of 2.1%.

For that matter, take North-East Asia, the hosts of this Summit. With its 50% of the world population and almost 20% of the world economic value, this region accounts less than 15% of the I.M.F. vote. Is reality of the world economy reflected in the I.M.F.? No.

Then another specific -the question of international reserve currency.

In the context of the world's new economic realities, this question also needs to be reconsidered more urgently. It is our acceptance that no national currency should be given the unique privilege of enjoying the status of international reserve currency.

I am inclined to agree that its implementation needs time. But we must from now onwards consciously work towards that goal of creating a new international reserve currency.

Here, I quite appreciate the bold position taken by the former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. He was quite candid and objective in his assessment of the realities of the world economy. He said "West dominated the world economy for 500 years. We have now reached a new turning-point in history". This is the stark reality. This is the time for a paradigm shift.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world is moving from unipolarity to multi-polarity evidenced by the following developments.

Firstly, emergence of several new economic centres in the world economy as expressed through G 20.

Secondly, G.D.P. of Six Asian Economies amounts to $ 17 trillion (of the world's G.D.P. of $ 60 trillion), the biggest grouping. This provides evidence in support of the fact that world's economic centre is shifting from the United States of the American continent to the continent of Asia in the 21st. century.

Thirdly, Sources of funds today are concentrated in Asia (including Middle East).

Fourthly, Formation of new economic blocs, alliances, and organizations.

Fifthly, Key sources of energy in Euro-Asia region.

Sixthly, Awakening Latin America, moving away enbloc from neo-liberalism.

Seventhly, The Asian developing countries are moving out of the recession faster than the developed countries.

This is why a new world economic order is strongly felt and urgently needed. Specifically, the need for a new architecture of the international financial system is imperative.

Reality dictates this need.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Canadian Embassy in SL vilifies the sacred titles ‘Reverend’ and ‘Thero ‘ and insults Buddhist priest

Canadian Embassy in SL vilifies the sacred titles ‘Reverend’ and ‘Thero ‘ and insults Buddhist priest

(Lanka-e-News 11.Sep.2009 12.30PM) I have refrained from writing much about Sri Lanka since the end of the war on terrorism – although there have been a number of topics on which I could have commented.
I am convinced that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has things pretty much under control, and that he is moving the country and its diverse populations forward toward the unity and harmony he has promised.One incident, however, just came to my attention that I feel I must address – because it personally involves someone I am very close to, and reflects an old, bad attitude that must be fixed. Here’s the story:A Nayake Thero, Ven. Haupe Somananda Nayake Thera, Chief Incumbent of Sri Mahavihariya, Pamankada, Dehiwala, who is 72 years old, is one of the kindest, most innocent people I have ever met. I have learned a great deal from this revered Buddhist monk over the years, and I have benefitted greatly from my association with him.One of his students, now the Abbot of a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple in Ohio, invited Ven. Somananda to come to the US to attend the dedication of a new international Buddhist center that has just been built on his premises. He prepared the appropriate sponsorship documents for his visa to the US, and this was obtained with no difficulty. Nayake Thera had been to America before, and had just returned from a lengthy pilgrimage in India. This senior monk is no stranger to travel, and during his long life he has experienced a great deal of the world.Subsequently, a Buddhist temple invited Ven. Somananda to visit their vihara in Canada while he was in North America. Nayake Thera, armed with proper documentation and sponsorship letters, then went to the Canadian Embassy in Colombo to get his visa so he could enter this liberal, democratic country. It seems, however, that this Embassy is still staffed with Tamils from the old school British system, and it also seems that they are prejudiced against Buddhists – particularly Buddhist monks. I’m referring to the “local” Embassy staff – not the Canadian nationals.The first time Nayake Thera went to apply at the Embassy he was told that he had to produce bank statements from the temple in Canada he wished to visit. He promptly had these faxed to him.The next day he approached the counter in the Embassy and produced the bank statements – only to be told that he had to provide a copy of the monk’s passport in Canada that he intended to visit. He promptly had this faxed to him.The following day he handed over the photocopy of the monk’s passport – and was told that his own passport had to be changed before a Canadian visa could be issued. The counter agent said he had to have the words “Reverend” and “Thero” removed. Can you believe this nonsense?At this point Nayake Thero informed the counter staff that his passport had been accepted by the US Embassy for a visa – and that there had been no problem with his name and title. The staff person rudely exclaimed, “This is not the US – this is Canada! Your visa application is rejected!”Ven. Somananda suddenly lost interest in visiting Canada, and gave up his quest for a visa to enter that proud land, a mosaic of free people from all over the world.Nayake Thero told me that he had the feeling that he was up against the LTTE when he stood before the counter staff at the Canadian Embassy. I’m sorry, folks, but this just doesn’t work for me…
First of all, the Canadian Embassy in Colombo has every right to reject visas to Sri Lankan nationals with good reason, but it has no right to dictate to the Sri Lankan Passport Office how to issue its passports to members of the Buddhist clergy. Secondly, the Canadian Embassy in Colombo should teach its local staff members how to show some respect – and withhold their personal views about Buddhist monks – as well as their political leanings.I doubt that Ven. Somananda will ever want to visit Canada after this humiliating ordeal. I don’t blame him – I wouldn’t either. I suggest that something be done to prevent this kind of ill treatment in the future. Wise up Canadian Foreign Office! The war is over in Sri Lanka – even if you’re still struggling with it back home.

World's oldest person dies in Los Angeles at 115

World's oldest person dies in Los Angeles at 115

AP – FILE - In this April 6, 2009 file photo Gertrude Baines celebrates her 115th birthday, at the Western …
By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press Writer John Rogers, Associated Press Writer – Fri Sep 11, 5:03 pm ET

Although she liked her bacon crispy and her chicken fried, she never drank, smoked or fooled around, Gertrude Baines once said, describing a life that lasted an astonishing 115 years and earned her the title of oldest person on the planet.
It was a title Baines quietly relinquished Friday when she died in her sleep at Western Convalescent Hospital, her home since she gave up living alone at age 107 after breaking a hip.
She likely suffered a heart attack, said her longtime physician, Dr. Charles Witt, although an autopsy was scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.
"I saw her two days ago, and she was just doing fine," Witt told The Associated Press on Friday. "She was in excellent shape. She was mentally alert. She smiled frequently."
Baines was born in Shellman, Ga., on April 6, 1894, when Grover Cleveland was in the White House, radio communication was just being developed and television was still more than a half-century from becoming a ubiquitous household presence.
She was 4 years old when the Spanish-American War broke out and 9 when the first World Series was played. She had already reached middle age by the time the U.S. entered World War II in 1941.
Throughout it all, Baines said last year, it was a life she thoroughly enjoyed.
"I'm glad I'm here. I don't care if I live a hundred more," she said with a hearty laugh after casting her vote for Barack Obama for president. "I enjoy nothing but eating and sleeping."
Her vote for Obama, she added, had helped fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing a black man elected president.
"We all the same, only our skin is dark and theirs is white," said Baines, who was black.
The centenarian, who worked as a maid at Ohio State University dormitories until her retirement, had outlived all of her family members. Her only daughter died of typhoid at age 18.
In her final years, she passed her days watching her favorite TV program, "The Jerry Springer Show," and consuming her favorite foods: bacon, fried chicken and ice cream. She complained often, however, that the bacon served to her was too soft.
"Two days ago, when I saw her, she was talking about the fact that the bacon wasn't crisp enough, that it was soggy," Witt said.
She became the world's oldest person in January when Maria de Jesus died in Portugal at 115.
The title brought with it a spotlight of attention, and Baines was asked frequently about the secret to a long life. She shrugged off such questions, telling people to ask God instead.
"She told me that she owes her longevity to the Lord, that she never did drink, she never did smoke and she never did fool around," Witt said at a party marking her 115th birthday.
At the party, Baines sat quietly, paying little attention as nursing home staffers and residents sang "Happy Birthday" and presented congratulatory notices from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and others. But she laughed when told the Los Angeles Dodgers had given her a cooler filled with hot dogs.
With Baines' death, 114-year-old Kama Chinen of Japan becomes the world's oldest person, said Dr. L. Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks claims of extreme old age. Chinen was born May 10, 1895.
The oldest person who ever lived, Coles said, was Jeanne-Louise Calment, who was 122 when she died Aug. 4, 1997, in Arles, France.
Associated Press writer Solvej Schou contributed to this report.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How Ban Ki Moon tripped on SL’s Diplomacy trap

How Ban Ki Moon tripped on SL’s Diplomacy trap

Criticisms are being levelled from all quarters these days against UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon for not taking steps to halt the Sri Lankan (SL) war concluded recently. ‘The Economist’ magazine has declared that Ban Ki Moon’s popularity is on the decline day by day , based on an opinion poll , adding that, one of the reasons for this popularity wane is because Moon did not perform his duties duly during the SL war .

The US New York Times newspaper during the last few days has also come down heavily on Ban Ki Moon against his course of action and for not taking measures to stop the war. It had been pointed out that Ban Ki Moon had not adopted adequate strategies and measures to stop the war. Although he tried to halt the war by his personal discussions with the SL Govt. , he did not sufficiently enlist the International community to bring enough pressure to bear on the SL Govt. overtly. He is also being castigated for his lukewarm attitude , having not made an announcement seriously critical of the SL Govt. and for not issuing a notice under his personal signature.

Estate unions vow not to give up

Estate unions vow not to give up

The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), the Lanka Jathika Estate Union (LEWU) and the Ceylon Workers Alliance which launched a go slow campaign demanding a daily wage of Rs 500 for estate workers, yesterday said they would change their stance to win the demand if the need arose.
CWC Secretary Minister Arumugam Thondaman told a joint news conference of the three unions which are signatories to the collective agreement that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s intervention was not necessary to resolve the issue as this was an issue between the unions which are signatories to the collective agreement and the employers.

UN criticises Sri Lanka expulsion

UN criticises Sri Lanka expulsion

[The UN] is working impartially to assist the people of Sri Lanka and the government should be supporting and co-operating with its efforts
Ban Ki-Moon
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, has criticised the Sri Lankan government's decision to expel a UN children's agency spokesman.
The government accused the spokesman of spreading Tamil Tiger propaganda.
Mr Ban's office said he strongly regretted the decision and would raise the issue with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the earliest opportunity.
The spokesman, James Elder, regularly updated the media on the plight of children caught up in the war.

Saturday, September 5, 2009



Pakistan Navy Ship ZULFIQUAR will pay a goodwill visit to Sri Lanka 5th September 2009 , according to the spokesperson of the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo.
This will provide an opportunity for close interaction between both friendly navies.

Such visits to regional countries are a regular feature but have picked up momentum in the last few years owing to growing interdependence at state level in facing emerging challenges and to enhance security and defence of vital national interests.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Journalsit Tissanayagam jailed for 20years

Journalsi Tissainayagam jailed 20 years

Journalist J.S.Tissainayagam was convicted and sentenced to 20years hard labour in jail for editing and publishing the magazine "North Eastern Monthly" .

The sentence was imposed on three charges

1.conspiring to edit,print and distribut the north easternmonthly magazine from June 1,2006-2007, an offence punishable under the prevention of Terrorism Act;

2. collecting money to run the magazine and

3. thereby furthering the cause of terrorism, an offence punishable under the Emmergency regulations and inciting communal feelings by editing, printing and distributing the magazine.

Colombo High court judge Deepali Wijesundara imposed five yers hard labour in jail on each of the first two counts. And ten years of hard labour in jail on the third count. The jail terms are to be served consecutively which means a total of 20years.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

No tsunami threat to Sri Lanka following Indonesia earthquake

No tsunami threat to Sri Lanka following Indonesia earthquake

The Department of Meteorology says there is no tsunami threat to Sri Lanka despite a tsunami warning issued to the Indian Ocean by the US Pacific Centre following a 7.3 magnitude earthquake off Indonesia. The Pacific Centre has also lifted the tsunami alert